Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, January 20, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack Obama continues to spin, his Iraq remarks in tonight's speech don't hold water, NPR forgets it is tax payer funded because it's supposed to be objective, and much more.

"I have no more campaigns to run," declared US President Barack Obama tonight in a possible attempt to provide comfort to a put-upon nation as he delivered yet another State of the Union Address.

He first ran for the oval office, for example, promising to close the gulag at Guantanamo.

In his campaign literature entitled "The War We Need To Win" in 2007,"  the promise was made, "As president, Barack Obama will close the detention facility at Guantanamo."  Eight years later, it remains open.

President Barack Obama: As Americans, we have a profound commitment to justice -- so it makes no sense to spend three million dollars per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit. Since I've been President, we've worked responsibly to cut the population of GTMO in half. Now it's time to finish the job. And I will not relent in my determination to shut it down. It's not who we are.

Has he "worked to cut the population of GTMO in half"?  Well the promise was to close it.

And not to close it in his second term.

Pointing out realities makes one one of the "cynics" Barack referenced in his speech, a reference that left him sounding truly Nixonian.

The editorial board of the San Diego Union-Tribune saw the speech as "self-flattery" and observed:

The notion that a broadly resurgent United States can “turn the page” on a recent era of economic pain, wars and terrorism builds off a sunny assessment of the world that we don’t think many people share.
After the turbulent past year, it is hard to conceive of how anyone could argue the world is safer because of U.S. leadership.

Obama’s self-congratulation on the economy is also baffling. When unemployment was high and growth low, Democrats blamed an obstructionist House. Now that the jobless rate is coming down and growth is rebounding in much of the nation, suddenly the gridlock narrative is gone in favor of the idea that the good news is due to the president’s vigorous stewardship of something vaguely described as “middle-class economics.” But wait — wasn’t that stewardship utterly stymied? Isn’t it far more likely that the U.S. rebound is because of the private sector’s vitality — especially in energy and tech — not the actions of government?

AP opens their fact check of the State of the Union Address with, "The U.S. may not have 'risen from recession' quite as rousingly as President Barack Obama suggested in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night. Seven years after that severe downturn began, household income hasn't recovered and healthy job growth is complicated by the poor quality, and pay, of many of those jobs."

Perhaps to avoid charges of being a "cynic," AP avoids fact checking Barack on Iraq (one aside is not a fact check -- especially an aside that combines Iraq with Syria).

Barack insisted, "Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain."

Fewer than 15,000?

But he promised they would be gone -- from Iraq.

August 1, 2007, Barack promised, "When I am president, we will wage the war that has to be won, with a comprehensive strategy with five elements: getting out of Iraq and on the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan; developing the capabilities and partnerships we need to take out the terrorists and the world's most deadly weapons; engaging the world to dry up support for terror and extremism; restoring our values; and securing a more resilient homeland."

The drawdown at the end of 2011 was a drawdown, not a withdrawal.

It was a point made  December 12, 2011, when Ted Koppel filed an important report on Rock Center with Brian Williams (NBC) about what was really taking place in Iraq:

MR. KOPPEL: I realize you can't go into it in any detail, but I would assume that there is a healthy CIA mission here. I would assume that JSOC may still be active in this country, the joint special operations. You've got FBI here. You've got DEA here. Can, can you give me sort of a, a menu of, of who all falls under your control?

US AMB. JAMES JEFFREY: You're actually doing pretty well, were I authorized to talk about half of this stuff.

Not only did Barack not get "out of Iraq," in June he began openly sending more US troops in.

More and openly being the key words.

In the fall of 2012,   Tim Arango (New York Times) reported, Barack sent a brigade of US Special-Ops into Iraq. In the US, the brief passage on Iraq buried in a report on Syria garnered very little attention.  To other outlets it was major news and a story they pursued.  One example of that would be  Press TV reported which reported in December 2012::

Over 3,000 US troops have secretly returned to Iraq via Kuwait for missions pertaining to the recent developments in Syria and northern Iraq, Press TV reports.
According to our correspondent, the US troops have secretly entered Iraq in multiple stages and are mostly stationed at Balad military garrison in Salahuddin province and al-Asad air base in al-Anbar province. 

In June of 2014, he began sending US troops in openly and publicly.

In June of 2014, he insisted that the only answer for Iraq was a "political solution."

Tonight, Barack declared:


I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don't let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. That's exactly what we're doing right now – and around the globe, it is making a difference.

But that isn't what's being done.

Barack may say he believes "in a smarter kind of American leadership" which combines "military power with strong diplomacy."  He may say that.

But as we've noted for months here, he's instead focused on bombing and getting foreign governments to send troops into Iraq while ignoring the diplomatic issues and the diplomatic power.

Sunday brought not one but two major reports noting the lack of political progress in Iraq.  Martin Chulov (Guardian) reported:

Iraq’s vice-president for reconciliation, Iyad Allawi, said a lack of a political process between the Shias who dominate the country’s power base, and disenfranchised Sunnis was a “grave mistake” that could mean the air attacks end up achieving little.
“The whole strategy needs to be revisited and readdressed and the international allies should be part of this,” Allawi told the Guardian. “People are asking me what will come after Isis. What would be the destiny of [local] people? Are they going to be accused of supporting or defeating Isis? Would they be accused of being Ba’athists? It is going to be really difficult for them to engage without reconciliation.”

And Tim Arango and Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) reported:

On any given day, Sunni women gather here in search of answers about their men, some of whom have been jailed for years.
“The Iraqi Army took my son in March of 2014,” said Tawfika Abbas. “Until now, I don’t know where he is. Zero information.”
Another woman, Entisar Gannos, cried for her four sons: one jailed since 2006, another since 2010, and the other two since 2011, all without court hearings.
Their grief, and the pain of not knowing what is happening to their loved ones, highlight a vital task for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi: reforming Iraq’s criminal justice system. Well-documented abuses of the system, including long detentions without trial and confessions obtained by torture, are the primary grievance of the country’s Sunni minority.

But tonight he didn't own up to that reality.

President Barack Obama:  In Iraq and Syria, American leadership – including our military power – is stopping ISIL's advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. We're also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism. This effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed. And tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL.

By passing what?  Oh, yeah, that authorization for force, the one he sent US Secretary of State John Kerry to argue, December 9th, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- sent Kerry to argue  that Congress must pass an authorization for Barack's actions in Iraq and Syria and that this legislation must include that Barack can send US combat troops into Iraq.

Secretary of State John Kerry: However, while we certainly believe this is the soundest policy, and while the president has been clear he's open to clarifications on the use of U.S. combat troops to be outlined in an AUMF, that does not mean we should pre-emptively bind the hands of the commander in chief  or our commanders in the field -- in responding to scenarios and contingencies that are impossible to foresee. 

Barack wants ground troops in Iraq to be in combat.

Tonight was the perfect time for him to get honest with the American people.

He elected not to do so.

Portions of Barack's remarks were leaked ahead of the speech.  In response to the (brief and tiny) section on Iraq, these Tweets went up:

  • He's not the only one being dishonest about military action in Iraq.

    As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Monday saw the Canadian government acknowledge that Canadian forces in Iraq had been fired on and exchanged fire with the Islamic State.  The incident has left Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper looking like a liar.  Bruce Campion-Smith and Tonda MacCharles (Toronto Star) report:

    NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair on Tuesday point-blank accused Harper of misleading Canadians, saying the revelations that soldiers have been directing airstrikes and even exchanged gunfire with extremists calls into question the government’s promise of a “non-combat” mission.
    “He told Canadians they would not be involved in combat. He did not tell the truth,” Mulcair said.
    Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said the prime minister was not “forthright” about what the mission involved from the get-go.
    “The prime minister made some statements in the fall around this mission that turn out today to not to have been entirely truthful,” Trudeau said.

    This is serious and it's not going to be a surprise if it happens to US troops.

    But we can be serious in America, can we?

    Instead we get garbage like "Political Theater, Crazy-Glued GOP Seats And More Congressional Reaction."  If that appeared as a column in the New York Times, no problem.  A commentary on MSNBC or Fox News, no problem.

    But this was 'filed' by Amita Kelly at NPR.

    It's one-sided, it's garbage but worst of all Americans pay for that.  National Public Radio is not supposed to be Fox News or MSNBC.  It's supposed to be objective.

    And when it pulls this crap, it makes the charges of bias all the more legitimate.  (For the record, Democrat Steve Israel came up with "Crazy Glued GOP" in a Tweet.  You have to read to the end to even figure out why that's in the title.)

    And, for the record, if you wanted to tack on "crazy" to anyone of the members of Congress Kelly features, it would be Democrat Rosa DeLauor:

    Thrilled at President Obama's bold step to bring American workplace into 21st century. Time for Congress to follow suit & too!

    A 21st century workplace recognizes pregnancy as natural and doesn't penalize women for being pregnant.  For those who've forgotten, US House Rep Tammy Duckworth was ordered by her doctor not to get on a plane due to being in the last stages of her pregnancy yet when she requested to be allowed to vote in leadership races by proxy, Rosa DeLauro sided against Tammy.

    So don't pretend to be a friend of the workforce or to want to modernize it when you penalize a woman for being pregnant.  Rosa is full of crap and has no one to blame for that but her own crazy self.

    Though Barack portrayed Iraq as a success, the violence continues.

    Saif Hameed, Stephen Kalin, Ned Parker and Larry King (Reuters) report 26 corpses were discovered in Saadiya District.  Alsumaria reports a Tuz Khurmato grenade attack left two people injured, a Sadr City bombing left 1 person dead and five more injured, a suicide car bombing to the east of Ramadi left 3 people dead and eighteen more injured, a Hamammiyet roadside bombing left 1 person dead and two more injured, in Tarmiya a local council member was shot dead by assailants in Iraqi military uniforms, and a suicide car bombing in Nikhayb left two Iraqi soldiers injured.

    Lastly, Felicity Arbuthnot has an important report at Dissident Voice which we'll excerpt some of tomorrow.

    rock center with brian williams
    nbc news
    ted koppel
    the new york times
    tim arango